Haiti (MNN) — Hurricane Matthew is in no hurry.
The storm comes at a bad time for Haiti. The poorest country in the Americas is set to hold a long-delayed presidential election next Sunday.
Whether or not that still happens is anybody’s guess. Right now, Haiti is bracing for flash floods and violent winds as the powerful storm continued its march toward the hemisphere’s poorest country. The concern is that Hurricane Matthew could dump as much as 40 inches of rain, which would raise the chances of mudslides and floods in the heavily deforested country.
Meteorologists say Matthew is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history, briefly becoming the strongest hurricane in the region since Felix in 2007.
The concern is over the vulnerable families still living in flimsy houses with corrugated metal roofs, or tent cities following the 2010 quake disaster in Port au Prince. According to the hurricane center, the storm looked like it would pass east of Florida through the Bahamas, but it was too soon to predict what kind of threat the storm would be to the U.S. East Coast.
For Haiti With Love’s Roseline DeHart says, “Port au Prince is being hit by Matthew right now. They’re really starting to feel it. Some of them (the residents) didn’t have time to move. Some of them are still in there (tent cities), right now.”
Haiti’s civil protection agency said there were roughly 1,300 emergency shelters across the country, enough to hold up to 340,000 people. Authorities have issued evacuation warnings in an effort to counter people’s tendency to shelter in their homes.
To that, DeHart says, “We’re seeing a lot of people moving away from the lower ground areas and moving up to family that have their houses up on the mountains. Schools are closed because of it…”, as are the airports.
Meanwhile, a six-hour drive north to Cap Haitien, skies were cloudy as of early Monday afternoon and the rain hadn’t started yet, DeHart says. By Tuesday morning, it had started coming down in sheets.
Cap Haitien is where For Haiti With Love’s headquarters are, perched visibly on a hillside. The ministry has been a place of help since 1982, always with an eye cast toward being the hands and feet of Christ in the area.
For Haiti With Love offers a food program providing nutritionally balanced meals to the hungry, formula for babies with no mothers or mothers without breast milk, a construction program that has completed churches, schools, marketplaces in six villages, over 50 homes for the homeless, and a medical program providing 24-hour emergency medical care for the poor.
Even though Hurricane Matthew hasn’t hit the north as hard yet, the ministry team hasn’t been idle. “We’ve been passing out food and clothing to the people. Our clinic is even busier today than ever. There are a lot of burn patients coming in today. So, we’re very busy waiting for Matthew.”
They’re also praying for the seemingly impossible. But God is a big God. Would you join them? “Pray that this storm is not as big as they say, because Haiti can’t take anymore. Pray that it fizzles out, that it doesn’t do any harm at all.”